There have been many changes in education, but recently the pace of that change has been incredible. With digital and connected devices, students can have access to the data of the our collective history in seconds. They can share their stories instantly and connect with others around the world with the push of a button. The concept of connection has changed: what was once about the physical has now included the virtual, with both benefits and drawbacks.
With the incredible changes happening in our world and the unknown variable of the future, those in education have been struggling with how to best prepare students for their adult successes. With 21st Century Learning being the big buzz words ten years ago, then collaborative and adaptive learning, and now the big phrases include coding, programming and apps. But we must be careful about talking about change and actual real change.
I remember teaching human evolution in an International Baccalaureate biology class last century where we could trace the theories of human evolution to the societal beliefs around change: during wars, evolution was about the “fighter”; during the 60’s, it was about the “hunter/gatherer”; during the 70’s, it was “mother”.
The changing theories reflected the times and this is true in education, as well. The “freedom curriculum of the 70’s”, the “formulaic competition of the 80’s”, and now the “tech age”, have all been influenced by the culture, government and society of each decade.
I believe that change is needed in our systems (in fact, change should be incorporated as part of the system itself). But, with all change, we must remember who we are serving: our future; our students in front of us. If there is a change that improves the teacher profession, then it must also improve student learning (happy teacher, happy classroom?). We can’t have change so an administrator can point to it in a job interview and say “I did that”. We need change to improve the opportunities for our students to learn how to learn and become successful in whatever they want to do.